Stocks drift in fog of uncertainty
CNN — U.S. stocks were mixed early Wednesday as investors remain cautious ahead of jobs data due later this week and an uncertain outlook for taxes.
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 0.3% while the S&P 500 hovered near the break-even point. The Nasdaq was down 0.4%, dragged lower by shares of Apple.
Bank stocks gained after Citigroup announced plans to cut 11,000 jobs and take a $1 billion charge in the fourth quarter as part of a "repositioning" effort under newly appointed CEO Michael Corbat. Shares of Citi were up nearly 4%. Bank of America, JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley were also higher.
Stocks have lacked momentum this week as the fight over tax hikes and spending cuts in Washington shows no sign of progress. President Obama and Congress are at loggerheads over how to resolve the fiscal cliff, a stalemate that puts the nation's economy at risk.
Ahead of the market open, payroll processor ADP reported that U.S. private-sector employers added 118,000 jobs in November. That was slightly worse than expected, and smaller than the gain of 157,000 jobs in the previous month.
Investors will be keeping close tabs on the labor market ahead of the government's monthly jobs report due Friday.
Data on factory orders for October is due from the Census Bureau after the opening bell.
In corporate news, Nasdaq announced late Tuesday that Facebook will be joining its marquee Nasdaq-100 index next week.
Pandora shares plunged more than 13% after the Internet radio service issued a disappointing outlook for sales and earnings late Tuesday.
Shares of Nokia rose following an announcement that it has partnered with China Mobile to launch a new version of its Lumia smartphone for the Chinese market.
Overseas markets were boosted by comments on the economy from China's new leadership. The Communist Party's politburo said the economy was "stabilizing and positive elements are increasing," and it promised further reforms.
European markets posted solid gains in morning trading, while Asian markets had a banner day, with indices in Shanghai and Hong Kong adding more than 2%. Shares in Ping An were up after HSBC announced the sale of its stake in the Chinese insurer.